Shaping the Right Path for Your Academic Career
By Carla Todaro, MD, from the IARS, AUA and SOCCA 2019 Annual Meetings*
Dr. Vivianne Tawfik from Stanford University opened the Scholars’ Program session, Establishing Independence, Building an Academic Career through Innovations in Research and Education, focusing on what strategies and actions should be taken to achieve an academic career.
The three presenters included Drs. Edward Sherwood from Vanderbilt University, Sean Mackey from Stanford University and Colleen Kohn from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The following are suggestions offered by three of the gurus on education and research.
The first point discussed was how to define an academic path and finding the starting point. Education vs. research and what comes after that? At early stages of one’s career, it can be difficult to immediately find the right path. Having an idea of what you enjoy is fundamental to adequately direct your energies and efforts.
The presenters stressed that there is no time for digressions and it’s important to define goals and be selective. To find a valid mentorship may represent the turning point in your career. This is not an easy task but you have to keep searching.
At an early stage in your career, nothing can be built alone. For this reason, it is fundamental to find a department with a strong culture of faculty development and giving the opportunity to receive adequate mentorship and sponsorship.
If the right place for you looks unattainable and far away, sometimes your mentor can make it possible. Sometimes a phone call can change your future.
The speakers emphasized the importance of being where you want to be and set your targets.
They addressed the question, “Are there better opportunities in small or big academic centers? There is no a right answer because it depends on what would be good for you to achieve your goals.
Through building relationships and knowing leadership, you can open yourself to more opportunities and use the meetings to promote yourself. Meet people, talk to people, and ask advice. Your opportunity may be only few meters away, you only need to find it.
The presenters acknowledged that life balance can be challenging to achieve but that it’s important to make time to strive for it in your life. Be able to organize your time. Your career is important but your family needs you. Just learn how to manage your time as best you can.
The presenters provided a friendly, open environment for answering any questions from the audience.
*Coverage from the Scholars’ Program: Establishing Independence, Building an Academic Career though Innovations in Research and Education during the IARS 2019 Annual Meeting